The Hoisting of the White Flags Tarnishing Pennant Races

It used to be that when you entered spring training almost every team had hopes that they could compete in the pennant race. That was then. This is now. A new building block has been created for creating playoff caliber teams. It is called tanking.

Baseball tends to be a copycat league. Ever since the Cubs built the blue print of tanking and building up through high draft choices created by 100 loss seasons, other teams have followed. The Astros won the World Series last year using that blue print. Now there are a number of other teams who are following the blue print.

What is the harm in this approach? Major league baseball has at least 11 of their 30 teams going through a rebuilding process. This will result in few pennant races and probably at least three 100 win teams who spend their day beating up on those teams that would have 100 losses if there were not so many other poor teams in a rebuilding stage. This will result in a drop in attendance and a lessoning of interest in a season that many already feel drags on too long.

The teams in the rebuilding process are: Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres. A couple of those teams are in the final stages of their rebuilding effort and could be more competitive. In other words, you will have perhaps five expansion teams and six weak teams battling for the first round pick.

Other teams who probably should rebuild because their rosters are so weak with a number of players ready to become free agents in a year: Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.

This leaves only 14 teams who have some hope of competing in the playoff race. More teams will be out of the playoff race before the season starts than teams who have slight hopes of a playoff season. This has also created a thin market for free agents. If you have no interest in competing for a playoff spot, why would you choose to spend a lot of money to sign a free agent? You may look for a bargain player that you hope to trade later on once he proves his worth. Taking on a high salary is out of the question. Some agents have misread the free agent market. There may not be enough teams in the market willing to bid for the available free agents out there.

Next year myworld sees the Baltimore Orioles and perhaps a couple other teams to be added to the tank brigade. It makes no sense to spend a large salary on a mediocre team. Cut salary, finish at the bottom, collect some revenue and then in three to four years use that savings to sign free agents. By then the collective bargaining contract will expire, the players will be pissed by the lack of signings and you can see discontent entering the bargaining process. So not only will major league baseball have sagging attendance, but they will have some angry ballplayers upset with the money tanking owners are making because of low salaries at the expense of a number of players forced to sign minor league contracts, or sitting out the season because of a lack of offers.

Trouble awaits.

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